Is there something new around PANTHEIST?
There is always something new. We are looking forward to playing some shows this year, hopefully abroad and here in the UK. We will also begin work on new material for the next album. The cycle continues…
Who founded this band? Do you still remember the recording of first demo?
The band was founded by Kostas in 2000, and he was joined very quickly by Nicholas. I don’t remember the recording of the demo, as I wasn’t in the band then! I do remember the first time I heard it however, and I was suitably impressed. Back then I was still living in Australia, and I had a little contact with some people in the European doom world, Kostas being one of them. I remember saying to him at the time that I would like to be part of Pantheist, but it seemed unlikely. Nevertheless, nine years later, here we are.
Why did you move to England?
Pantheist relocated to England for personal reasons on the part of Kostas. At the time of the relocation, the band had been reduced again to the core of Kostas and Nicholas, yet Nicholas remained in Belgium. For a while he made the journey across the channel for rehearsals, but ultimately life led him over the Atlantic to the USA - he will always be a Pantheist brute in our hearts.
Not long ago you have released third album "Journey Through Lands Unknown", how are the reviews?
The reviews are mixed. You could call the album polarizing. Some very positive, some quite negative, and more than a few that are simply perplexed. It seems that most of the negative reviews come from those with preconceived ideas of how Pantheist, or indeed any band ever labeled ‘doom’ (rightly or wrongly) should sound. It’s something not to get too concerned about, we can’t control what people write about us or our music, but from my perspective, and I think I speak for the whole band, this is the best album we have released. We don’t set out to make a record in any particular style, it’s an entirely natural process and progression. Obviously there are elements that people see as inherent to the Pantheist sound - heavy guitars, growled vocals, and the odd down-tempo section - but these are not definitive. We strive not to transcend boundaries, as we don’t feel there are any.
In my viewpoint it is one of the most mystic Doom Metal albums I've heard. It moves me to a longtime history. Was it your intent?
Thanks for the positive comments. I think by mystic you perhaps are commenting on the use of scales and song structures, and the moods these evoke. Many of the songs use eastern influenced scales, and Kostas has been a long time champion of the byzantine scale. The intention of the music is to evoke an emotional response in the listener, and if you hear it as mystical and it moves you to think of times long forgotten, then that’s a response, and we succeeded!
Isn’t the Funeral Doom genre too incommodious to you? How would you describe it more precisely?
Personally I would leave generic descriptions to the professionals. Whilst I realise that people sometimes need sign-posts in music as in life, they are all too often misleading. They help reinforce the herd mentality, and anything that falls outside that safe boundary is often misunderstood, and even seen as threatening. In my view there have only ever been a handful of bands deserving of the ‘funeral doom’ moniker - I’m not even sure Pantheist have ever really been a funeral doom band.
How do you evaluate the Exorcising the Funeral tour? Have you had some uncommon experiences?
Exorcising the Funereal was an excellent experience - a chaotic, bizarre, often absurd, but never dull week. On tour, everything is uncommon, particularly when you are sharing a stage with mad Finnish and German bastards every night. The audience response was very good everywhere we went, the highlights for me being the tiny and packed venue in Berlin, and the final night in the chapel at Herenthout in Belgium, a stunning location and memorable evening. As for specifics in regards to ‘uncommon experiences’, there is a saying ‘What goes on on tour, stays on tour.’ There were plenty of strange, and some rather disturbing goings on, but these are best left to the readers’ imagination, lest I ruin the image they may have of black clad, serious funeral doomsters mournfully plodding their way across the European continent spreading misery and despondency…
How were you satisfied with others bands, SKEPTICISM and OPHIS?
I had experienced Skepticism live on a few previous occasions, and had also had the honour of sharing a stage with them before the tour, so I knew what to expect. They are masters of their craft, and they proved this on stage every night. Off stage…well, see my response to the previous question!
Ophis are a band to watch. They may be relatively unknown to many people, but they are guided by strong personalities, and they grew exponentially over the week – every night they were better than the previous. It was my pleasure to share a stage with both bands…
Where did you get the best food?
I seem to remember a disproportionate number of pizzas. I think Baroeg in Rotterdoom had some decent food…things like that become a bit of a blur…
How do fans respond to your rapid rhythms?
Up tempo sections have been a part of Pantheist since ‘O Solitude’, and they seem to be well received. It’s not particularly uncommon for bands labeled doom to have faster sections, an obvious case in point being diSEMBOWELMENT. It’s another tool in creating light and shade, or conveying different emotions. It works well in a live environment, as it gives the audience a chance to breath after the funereal crushnity of the slow sections. As you would have heard on the new album, many of the new tracks fall somewhere in between - mid-tempo if you like.
There are sure a lot of fans which respect only your debut album and they damn your new creation. What would you say to them?
Have the lyrics changed opposite debut alongside with music?
Kostas writes all the lyrics, and I would hate to misinterpret them, but as far as my reading of them goes, the new lyrics reflect a more mature approach to the questions he poses himself. Growth is natural, and the way one relates to the world around them changes and evolves – perspectives are rarely static. I believe the lyrics reflect the growth of the individual, whilst broadly holding true to the themes introduced at the bands inception.
Why have you chosen PANTHEIST name? Do you believe in god?
To be a Pantheist does not imply a belief in any God, not in a literal, monotheistic sense. Pantheism is to see God, or something equating to God, in everything. It is all encompassing, a belief in the unity of the universe and nature. It relates to many philosophies worldwide, including a number of eastern faiths, along with pagan and animistic religions. It fits nicely with the evolutionary progression of the band. I am in fact an atheist.
Don't you think many bands underrate the power of various vocals? E.g. also NILE band have used big sort of vocals when they got well-known...
I wouldn’t say that most bands underestimate the power of varied vocal styles; rather they just don’t see a place for them in their music. Actually, in reality I have no idea what other bands think, I should probably stop this pointless idle speculation! I am not familiar with Nile’s recent output, I only own their first album, but I assume with their Egyptian influence they use chanting and some varied clean vocal styles.
Pantheist has always had a unique sound in regards to the vocals, and it is something we continually work to develop and improve upon. Whilst we may all be proficient at our instruments, it is sometimes forgotten that most people performing vocals in musical styles like ours rarely have any training, and are often learning as they go. This can have some unexpected and often very pleasing results. Of course it works the other way, sometimes things don’t work out so well. We simply use the vocals as a musical device like any other, a way of enhancing the song.
Which bands are your favorite and why?
Collectively there are certain artists we all appreciate, Pink Floyd springs to mind. Individually our tastes are vast and varied. I personally find solace in artists such as Autechre, Autopsy, Kate Bush, King Crimson, Master’s Hammer, Ram Narayan, Primus and 80’s Rush to name but a few.
Why don't you play funny music? Hope you don't want your listeners to commit suicide...haha!
We simply play what is natural to us. It’s not contrived, it just comes out this way. It’s an expression of the collective will of whoever happens to comprise Pantheist at the time an album is recorded. I don’t look around me and see a funny world, I see an extremely unfunny and unjust one. Pantheist does not seek to right these wrongs, rather hold a mirror to them. It is up to the individual to look at what is reflected, and if they then choose to do something as drastic as kill themselves, that is out of our control. In any case I do not believe a piece of music alone can coerce someone into making such an extreme decision.
Ok, that's all for now...what are your future plans? Could you write your actual top 5?
The future for Pantheist will be very much as the past in regards to the way the band operates. We will continue to rehearse, make music, and hopefully perform live on a more regular basis than has been the case until now. We will take the opportunities that come our way. As for a top five, well, I never look too far ahead, I have learned that plans tend not to work out as envisaged…but all things being equal we will be around for some time yet.